WASHINGTON -- United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today commented on the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Disaster Response Plan, which was released to Congress on Friday in response to a letter she sent last month to SBA Administrator Steven C. Preston. Sen. Landrieu, a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship as well as the Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, which funds the SBA, requested that the plan be completed in time for hurricane season, which began last week.

Following the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita, SBA did not have a comprehensive disaster response plan, which contributed to the agency's slow response to the storms. Loan approvals in Louisiana took between six to eight months to process while closings took an additional two months.

The Small Business Disaster Response and Loan Improvements Act of 2007, S. 163, included a Landrieu provision to require the SBA to implement a comprehensive Disaster Response Plan. The bill was approved unanimously by the Small Business Committee and is headed for the Senate floor. In the 109th Congress, Sen. Landrieu introduced a bill, S. 2482, with the same request of the SBA.

Sen. Landrieu said today:

"I commend Administrator Preston and his team for completing the Disaster Response Plan in time for hurricane season. It includes many important components that I have called for and been working with the SBA to implement for nearly two years. For homeowners and businesses, implementation of this plan will result in a more responsive SBA loan application process, additional resources for community outreach and better forecasting of loan volumes in advance of disasters.

"The SBA's response to the 2005 hurricanes was sluggish and harmful to the economic vitality of the region. Although this disaster plan is clearly a good step forward in SBA preparedness, more must be done to ensure that the response to the next disaster is quick, effective and successful. The plan still does not create a Disaster Planner position at the agency to oversee the plan and its maintenance. It also lacks the ability for SBA to provide short-term bridge financing for businesses. I will continue to work with the SBA and my colleagues on the Senate Small Business Committee to add these improvements to SBA's disaster preparedness capability."